It’s week 9 in the NFL which means that we’re officially at the halfway point of the season. That means you’ll most likely have been barraged with all sorts of “Mid-Season Awards/Report Card/Pro Bowl Team/All-Pro Team” articles. Not one to be outdone by others, even though they all posted their versions of the above yesterday, I wanted to chime in on one aspect of the mid-season assessment train and that’s the Pro Football Focus midseason All-Pro team.
Now, like head coach Mike Zimmer, I was never (at least initially) a huge proponent of PFF. I thought that the game of football was far too complex and that the inability for those of us watching the game from anywhere other than the Vikings sideline or coaching booth to know what the play calls were and thus what a certain player was supposed to do, made it hard for any objective grades to be handed out on a weekly basis.
That’s not to say that they can’t come pretty damn close and while you could say that PFF is always looking to perfect something that’s at least harder to perfect than other sports (like baseball where you have one pitcher facing one batter and not 11 giant men facing 11 also giant men who could do any number of things on each play), they’re still providing value and giving us pretty reliable data on each player on the field in a way that’s pretty much considered to be canon at this point by everyone, including me.
So I clicked on their ‘Mid-Season All-Pro Team’ headline with great interest to see if any of the Vikings made the squad. You’d think that with the last month being the breakout party for the Cousins lead Vikings offense, that you’d see a lot of players from the purp and … gerp (?) on the list. Sure, the defense has been shaky at times, but they’re still top ten in essentially every category, and in terms of the offense coming on in the second quarter of the season, people who cover the NFL are huge “What have you done for me lately” people and so you’d think that you’d hear names like Kirk Cousins, Stefon Diggs and especially Dalvin Cook on that list.
Let’s jump right in!
QB: Russell Wilson
Honorable Mention: Dak Prescott
Wilson I get, but Prescott? He’s had a good year but the Cowboys are coming off of a three game slide that helped them hit .500 after starting the season 3-0. That slide clearly wasn’t on Dak, fully, but he had his lowest QB-ratings of the season during that span (89.4, 83.8 and 73.2 vs. his average rating of 118.425 in the other four games/wins the Cowboys have).
The same could be said for Cousins in the Vikings’ losses (with a 52.9 rating against the Packers and a 91.6 against the Bears), I suppose, but he’s two more wins than Dak has and in those six wins Cousins has had the following ratings (moving backward from the ‘Skins game): 112.3, 141.5, 138.4, 138.6, 112.0, 140.8. Obviously PFF has a different system than the QB rating or the QBR that ESPN utilizes, but the difference here lies in the fact that outside of those two games Cousins has played damn near perfect, whereas the same can’t be said about Dak. Both have a lot of help form their running backs as well so that clearly isn’t part of what PFF is using here.
I guess I’m not as upset it’s not Kirk as I am surprised it’s Dak. Russell Wilson makes sense, but you’d think that there are a few other names that would get the honorable mention.
Running Back : Christian McCaffrey
Honorable Mention: Josh Jacobs
What the what what?
Dalvin Cook is the break out player of the year in the NFL and it’s not really that close. Jacobs is in the running (pun?) for rookie of the year but he’s nowhere near Cook in terms of being a dual-threat or dare I say it, a threat at all? Dalvin has nearly 300 yards receiving on the season to go with his 823 yards on the ground. He also has a better yards per rush average and over DOUBLE the touchdowns. He also leads the league in rushing and bests even McCaffrey in the average rushing yards per game.
This is just flat out wrong, and weird, like every interaction with that aunt who likes to kiss on the mouth at funerals.
WR: Chris Godwin/Michael Thomas
Honorable Mention(s): D.J. Chark/Amari Cooper
It’s not super surprising that neither Diggs nor Thielen make this list as Thielen has been injured the last game and a half and Diggs has had an up and down season both on the field on off of it. I feel like Thielen would’ve made this list had he not pulled that hammy somehow keeping his feet inbounds during that beautiful touchdown catch against the Lions.
Diggs, though, while not doing himself any favors with his off-the-field shenanigans also most likely didn’t have any of that drama factor into PFF’s decision as their stuff is all based on an algorithm and not the subjective thoughts of a sportswriter like my new patented system (on sale today)… Joe’s Numbers and Junk! Sign up now for a daily fee of JUST $500 to get all of the randomly assigned numbers I give players I either love or hate.
Like Cousins? Me too! He gets a 400! How about Diggs? He gets a -240 and a bicep muscle emoji!
But back to before this article went off the rails… I’m not mad at this aspect of it.
I will say though, that there’s a ton of Oakland Raiders (and Dallas Cowboys) on this list. In all, the Raiders and Cowboys have three players on this list. Which, considering they’re both not that great, is surprising.
FLEX: RB Austin Ekeler
Honorable Mention: RB Aaron Jones
Now, I’m not sure what a FLEX is in this instance. For a second I thought this was PFF’s fantasy football All-Pro list considering that’s where you hear that term. This, though, must mean backs that are dual threats which makes it even more infuriating than the snub that Cook received on the RB list.
Ekeler makes sense as he has 51 catches (which is nine more than any other running back) but Aaron Jones? I mean. Sure. He’s had a lot of receiving touchdowns and Cook has had none. But damn it. Where’s the love?
The Good News
Let’s stop dwelling and get to the good news. The Vikings do have some players on this list, three in fact. They’re all on the defense and it starts with Eric Kendricks at linebacker.
Kendricks is the first selection, with Jamie Collins Sr. of the Patriots coming in as the honorable mention. In regards to Kendricks PFF states:
“Kendricks has been the best linebacker in the NFL through the first eight weeks of the season. His 23 run stops lead the NFL while his 10 forced incompletions are four more than any other linebacker in the league. That’s a pretty good run/pass combo.”
Next up is Danielle Hunter on the Edge.
Hunter is the honorable mention behind Khalil Mack, which might boil some of your blood considering the ‘meh’ season (relatively) the Bears defense is having, compared to last season. Despite that, though, PFF says of Mack:
“Same Mack, different day. Only JJ Watt has had more singular pass-rushes earn the highest grade possible on the PFF scale. Mack’s 90.8 overall grade would mark his fifth straight season earning a grade of over 90.0”
Yeah. I’m not mad at that. Although, Hunter has the most sacks EVER for a player under 25 and is breaking records left and right with his play.
Finally, there’s Anthony Harris at the Safety spot.
Harris is the honorable mention behind Justin Simmons of the Broncos. Which may be surprising to some as if you’d heard that a safety from the Vikings made this list you’d assume it was Harrison Smith. Despite some pre-season calls for Harris to be replaced by the recently arrested Jayron Kearse (which seemed intriguing as Kearse is HUGE and had a great pre-season), Harris has had a great season. He leads the Vikings defense in interceptions with three and adds a ball-hawking aspect to a unit that hasn’t been known for turnovers in the Zimmer era (by design).
The Vikings lead the NFC North with three players on this list (and arguably could have double that), followed by the Bears with two (the aforementioned Mack and former Viking Cordarrelle Patterson (as an honorable mention as a kick returner)), the Packers with one and the Lions with zero.